Pole-dance instructor Jasmine Han tells Joan Chew how she stayed fit throughout her pregnancy.
Years ago, Ms Jasmine Han Li Ling, 34, went along with a friend's suggestion to enrol in pole-dancing classes. Her friend wanted to shed some post-pregnancy weight and the pair got hooked after taking a couple of afternoon classes, Ms Han said.
The hobby turned into Ms Han's career when she became one of three co-founders of Bobbi's Pole Studio which opened in Queen Street in April 2010.
The 1.6m tall beauty put on 20kg during her pregnancy but lost 8kg soon after giving birth to a baby girl in January and lost another 5kg by May. She now weighs 54kg.
She did it by teaching pole and exotic dancing at her studio again. Exotic dancing involves moves that accentuate a woman's curves. Its forms include striptease and lapdance.
She recalled how she got back into the swing of things by teaching only beginners' classes. "It's definitely the most fun and easiest way to tone up and lose body fat," she said.
The former pub owner said she has always been quite active and has a passion for teaching, so discovering a form of exercise she could teach is "a dream come true".
She is married to a 46-year-old Irish engineer. Their daughter is now 10 months old.
What do you do to keep fit?
I teach 10 to 12 classes a week, which adds up to 12 hours of pole and exotic dancing a week.
I also practise yoga by following YouTube videos in the comfort of my own home daily - often when my daughter is asleep.
I walk as often as I can, except when it gets too hot. My husband and I like to take our daughter out for walks by the water at VivoCity and at the Labrador Park. We also swim together every day.
What was your exercise regimen when you were pregnant last year?
Naturally, I stopped teaching pole and exotic dancing when I discovered I was pregnant in May last year.
Instead, I did pre-natal yoga and Hatha yoga, each twice a week, and swam every day.
I did not rely on any medical advice or books during my pregnancy. I just listened to my body.
I have always felt great physically and mentally after yoga and swimming, so I continued doing those activities - nothing overly strenuous - pretty much until my daughter was born. Has there been a time when you were not fit and fabulous?
When I was pursuing my undergraduate course in biology in my 20s in the United States, I weighed my heaviest at 68kg.
Then, I was eating fatty food and not working out. I did not have much energy and even doing housework was a chore.
That spurred me to start taking nutritional supplements, eating more healthily and swimming. I lost 13kg in four months.
What does it take to be a pole-dancing instructor?
For a start, you need to be energetic, passionate and positive. A can-do attitude is a must, especially as the moves get progressively harder.
You do not have to be fantastically strong, as you build strength over time. But you do need a good sense of rhythm and be able to move well to music, as almost all of our classes involve performing routines to music.
A pole-dancing teacher - or any teacher for that matter - should always have compassion and empathy for her students and other instructors.
A tiny drop of wit and wacky humour helps too.
What is your diet like?
I always drink half a litre of warm water first thing in the morning. An hour later, I blend protein powder and fruits with another half litre of water to make a smoothie.
Lunch is either a sandwich or soup and salad. I cook dinner - usually beef, potatoes or pasta - three to four times a week. Most importantly, I have a glass of red wine before bedtime.
I do not count my calories. I feel that the body is very intelligent; it will tell you when you are hungry, thirsty, full or overindulgent.
We just need to listen to our bodies more.
What are your indulgences?
I have a weakness for really good and fresh sugar-coated doughnuts.
About twice a month, I will have them when one of my girlfriends buys doughnuts for our babies' play dates.
What do you do to relax and achieve a healthy work-life balance?
To relax, I go for foot reflexology twice a week, take frequent dips in the pool with my daughter and explore Singapore with my husband and baby. I also like getting my hair washed at the salon. It is a small indulgence that makes me happy.
To stay balanced at work, I make sure I prioritise and organise my week properly.
I also ensure that I make time to spend with people of good influence and energy.
What are the three most important things in your life?
Two things - my health and my family.
Being at an acceptable weight, fitting well into my clothes and having good energy make me feel good about myself.
My future lies with my family members and they are what motivates me. What is your secret to looking fabulous?
Be around people who are beautiful inside and out. Stay hydrated, sleep six hours a day (if you are able to, with a baby) and start each day with a big glass of homemade fruit smoothie. Laugh out loud as often as you can.
Would you go for plastic surgery?
Yes. If I have an unfortunate accident that requires reconstruction, why not? Do you think you are sexy? Most definitely! Looking and feeling good make one feel sexy.
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